Tapping the Apocalypse

The garden is not going to sleep, though it really should. Like a wily toddler, it’s trying to convince me to just stay up just a little longer. It does that by continuing to produce tomatoes. To ripen a few more figs. The pumpkin plants were even making new flowers. But there is a moment when you have to be mean, and just pull everything up, force the garden to focus on the rooted things like leeks and garlic; and greens planted long ago like kale and broccoli and salad mixes. The bees are even in the game, out in huge numbers during these sunny days. I’m betting December will be the month when the garden quits needling, gets sleepy, and finally falls asleep.

Here’s a photo from the last farmstand–thanks to everyone who came!
My plans this winter include writing a new syllabus for a writing class I’m teaching at University of San Francisco. It’s called Tapping the Apocalypse. Here’s the class description, if you know of someone who’s going to USF:
Urban agriculture tends to take hold first in places that can be defined as apocalyptic. These damaged zones, in cities like Oakland or Detroit, have suffered from years of poverty and neglect, and are now hosting some of the most vibrant–and urgent–urban farms. This class will begin with an examination of how agriculture came about in the first place and how industrial agriculture (creating an apocalyptic landscape of its own) came to dominate our food system. The class will then delve into the revival of small scale farms and urban farms, questioning what forces came to pass that allowed this turning point to occur. We will take field trips to urban farms and meet guest speakers who work on the ground. Students will create a food experiment loosely based around an apocalyptic or catastrophic event. We will also write personal essays based around a turning point in our lives where everything changed, when an old self was destroyed, allowing a new self to germinate.

We will probably read Rebecca Solnit’s Paradise Built in Hell; excerpts of Octavia Butler’s The Seed Sower. Not The Road. Let me know if any of you have suggestions for other great apocalyptic literature.

I’ve actually been thinking it might make sense for me to teach this class at my farmlette in the Fall. Let me know if there are any interested students!

14 responses to “Tapping the Apocalypse

  1. That looks great! Good luck professor!

  2. Novella you are such an inspiration! Everyone should take this class if they can

  3. I’m sure you will have a wait list. Best wishes. I’m going to read these book, do a bit of distance learning.

  4. Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” and its sequel, “Parable of the Talents” are – IMO – the psychological equivalent of dynamite for apocalypse deniers. Sounds perfect for your curriculum!

  5. Have you ever read Margaret Atwood’s “The Year of the Flood”? There’s a religious cult (God’s Gardeners) who survive the apocalypse through seed-saving and herbal lore. Good read!

  6. What about Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”? That book started me on my way to where I am today…

  7. anything by kunstler or john michael greer. and if you want real doomslaggers guy mcpherson

  8. Kunstler’s World Made by Hand is blatantly sexist. The book glorifies college educated white males who live in New England and no one else. Don’t waste your time on his work. Dies the Fire is an excellent book.

  9. Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing might be a fun read. Post-apocalyptic San Francisco is an ecotopia started when a group of grandmothers start tearing up Army Street to grow food.

  10. Please tell us when the class will be available to sign up for!! I have to take this class!!!

  11. hi lety;
    it’s at USF, so i guess you have to be a student there to take it. maybe i should teach a writing class at GT farm. let me think about how that might work….

  12. Oh.. memories of you up here on a panel in Seattle … 2010?…me mentioning new documentary about Detroit urban farmers (‘Urban Roots’)…planting a seed? 🙂 And Rebecca’s book should be read by EVERYONE! (Especially Guy McPherson 🙂 Thanks a big bunch, Novella.

  13. Maureen costura

    Read Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Wind-Up Girl and Zombie Baseball Beatdown – the first is a post-apocalyptic world where most food is controlled by ‘calorie companies’ that war with each other by releasing genetically modified blights that sometimes mutate to attack humans as well. the second is an inditement of the slaughter and meatpacking industry written for kids. Fantastic writing and very relevant!

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